John

The end of Ramadan, Lebaran, asking for forgiveness

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John 1

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:29–34 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Last night, for the first time in my life, I witnessed the Muslim night of Lebaran. Here is a brief description taken from an expat website:

“At the end of the month of Ramadhan and its special religious observance is the Eid holiday, called Idul Fitri or Lebaran in Indonesia. In Indonesia, this is the time when Muslims visit their family and friends to ask for forgiveness for any wrongs they have committed in the previous year. They express this wish in the phrase “Mohon Maaf Lahir Batin” which means “forgive me from the bottom of my heart/soul for my wrongdoings in the past year”. A traditional Arabic (Muslim) greeting for the Eid celebrations is also commonly used in Indonesia “Minal Aidin Wal Fa Idzin“, which is expressed upon meeting friends and family during the festive days. Traditional foods are consumed, family and friends gather to ask forgiveness and exchange greetings.”

On this night of “Lebaran” the Muslims take time to ask forgiveness for their sins and to pray for power to live faithfully in the coming year. We typically hear the Muslim prayer calls over the loudspeakers four to five times a day, they are relatively short as they call the faithful to prayer. Last night we heard the prayer calls over the loudspeakers continually from 8:00PM to 12:00 midnight. As we stood on our deck we could hear six to eight different mosques crying out, in Arabic, for forgiveness. These calls were mixed with intermittent fireworks of celebration.

As I heard these continual calls for forgiveness, I prayed that these dear people would realize that the only forgiveness of their sin is through Jesus Christ. I cannot fault their sincerity and commitment to their beliefs, but I weep for their efforts of finding forgiveness apart from the only Savior who alone came as the Lamb of God to take away our sin. The difference is that in their teaching, Mohammed and Jesus were prophets; in our Bible we learn that Jesus was God before He came, took on human form but never set aside His deity, prophesied as a prophet and then proved Himself to be the very Son of God, was crucified to bear our judgment and rose from the dead to give us all eternal hope.

Join with us in prayer that our Muslim friends who cried out last night for forgiveness of sin would realize that their system is impotent to remove the sins they so sincerely cry out to have forgiven. Pray that their eyes will be opened to see Jesus, whom John the Apostle and John the Baptist proclaimed was the Son of God who alone can take away our sins.

 

For the first time yesterday, I had a Christian taxi driver. It was a blessing to fellowship with this man as we came home. I also met a man who is trying to get Ravi Zacharias to come to Indonesia. We exchanged information to see if Ravi coming here could be a reality.

This Friday and Saturday I will be bringing the messages at a singles retreat here in Jakarta. Pray for my preparation and for God to use His word to change lives and to shape them into His image.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Christ Lifted Up Draws People to Himself – John 12:32

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Twice in the book of John we have recorded Christ talking about being lifted up on a cross. Both references come from the event in Numbers 21 when the people lost confidence in God, complained and complained some more griping against Moses and against God.  In judgment, God sent deadly serpents through the camp and many were bitten and died.  The people repented of their sin and God told Moses to have a brass serpent made and lifted up on a pole; whoever would look at this brass serpent would live.

In this sermon, Pastor Steve ties these events together as Nicodemus would have understood them and then points us all to the Cross of Christ as the place to look in faith.  (This would be a good message to have a friend listen to.)

A Community of Footwashers – John 13

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I am in California right now enjoying the Shepherds Conference at Grace Community Church. There are about 3500 pastors from all 50 states and from 60 different countries. There are men here who are not pastors but most of them are serving their church in some capacity. The preaching is amazing but the worship is like none other. Can you imagine a full orchestra, a choir of 300 men, and then 3500 in the audience together singing praise to God? These are powerful and memorable moments.

We heard four sermons yesterday, all of them had to do with the building of the church of Jesus Christ. One message was taken from the time when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. They were arguing who amongst them would be the greatest in the kingdom. None of them would take the job of the household slave, so Jesus takes off his robe, puts on the towel, takes the water basin and rag and begins to wash the feet of these men who were too proud to do this. The disciples were stunned into silence, except for Peter. He blurts out and tells the Lord that he is not going to wash his feet! Jesus turns the lesson into one of salvation and says, “If I do not wash your feet you will have no part in my kingdom.”

When no one else was willing to serve, Jesus served. When one complained, Jesus served. There was nothing to be gained by Jesus washing their feet and if no one did this then they would have eaten with hot, dusty, dirty feet. What things around us need to be done but we think those things below us? What things around us need to be done but we assume someone else will do it? What things around us need to be done but if no one does it it just won’t get done? Yet, if Jesus had not demonstrated humble servanthood here in this act, which needed to be done, what a great lesson we would have lost.

We need to adopt a basin theology. There were two basins in the New Testament. From this basin Jesus served his disciples and proved to them his power to cleanse and to save. Pilate had a basin too, from his basin he washed his hands from the guilt of crucifying Jesus. One basin served others, the other basin rejected the Savior and selfishly served Pilate. I want to use the basin to serve others leading them to Christ and salvation in His cleansing.48BE4581-E263-4D43-8240-C4B8A4F3958D

The Harvest is Ready

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Ready to harvest
John 4
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
Though it wasn’t yet harvest season when Jesus told His disciples these words, for the crops were not yet ready to harvest, but as the disciples looked up, the men of Samaria were coming out in mass to hear the message of Christ.  The woman at the well had left her water pot to go tell the people of the city to come meet the Man who told her all things she had ever done.  “Must this not be the Christ?” she shouted.  As a result, the men of the city came out to meet this man who had so changed the worst woman in town.   As they were walking out to meet this “Man,” Jesus told His disciples, “Look, the harvest is plenteous.”
As I am now home from Asia, I can tell you, “Look, the harvest is plenteous.” People, people everywhere.  In the mid 1900’s there was a strong mission’s movement into the Philippines. Men who had been there in the war went go back as missionaries.  As a result, there is a strong gospel presence in the Philippines.  Yet, just like in the USA, there are millions still lost.
In Bangkok, Buddhism is strong.  I will show you more on Sunday but you cannot go around town without noticing mini-temples in front of houses and businesses.  These mini temples, it is believed, is where the evil spirits live thus freeing up the building behind it from the evil spirits living there.  People stop and light incense, leave bottles of red pop, and place figurines on these mini-temples.  How lost they are in this false belief.  Yet, Buddhism is everywhere.  The Christian churches are by-and-large, very small and far in-between.  Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers into Thailand as He did into the Philippines.

Be not doubting, like Thomas

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John 20

26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

How would you like to be remembered as “doubting Thomas”?  He missed the first appearance of the Lord to the disciples.  We don’t know why, he just wasn’t there.  Furthermore, despite the testimony of the others who did see the risen Jesus, Thomas boldly proclaimed that unless he put his own fingers into the holes in Christ’s hands and thrust his own hand into the wound in the Savior’s side, he wasn’t going to believe the Christ was alive.

John 20:24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

 

Thomas really did dig himself a hole of doubt and unbelief.  I cannot be too tough on poor Thomas though for I and each of us have been in the same place.  We were challenged to take a step of faith by someone who had already taken that step and found God faithful.  We resisted just not believing that the God who carried them would carry us.  We are really bad about this.  Perhaps we could call each other with the prefix “doubting” before our names.

 

The beauty of this transaction between the risen Lord Jesus and Thomas is this, in spite of Thomas’ doubting heart, Jesus appeared and gave Thomas the exact opportunity that he was demanding.  At that, Thomas believed.  When we doubt, the Lord does not turn away from us.  In love for us our Savior confirms His ability in a given situation and reaches beyond our doubt.

 

I don’t think Thomas ever doubted again.

 

Then Jesus said this to Thomas and also to us: ““Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  We are those who not having seen Jesus have believed.  Jesus said that we are blessed, that is, He blesses us with greater faith when we believe.  What is the Lord trying to get you to do for Him today and you are having a doubt fest?  What is keeping you back from doing what God wants you to do?  Are you expecting a personal visit from Christ or can you simply step out by faith knowing that He who has saved you eternally is quite capable of leading you in this temporary life?

 

Just a reminder, Steven and I have our concert with the Glee Club and the Voices of Hope choir this Sunday at 3:00.  Some of you have bought tickets already while others have expressed interest but haven’t gotten tickets yet.  Send me a note letting me know how many you want.  The theme of this concert is hope for people touched by cancer.  If you know anyone who has been touched by cancer we have a grant for free tickets for them.  Please let me know if you have someone interested in a free cancer survivor ticket.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

The Resurrection of Jesus Changes Everything

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John 20:19–21

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

The risen Christ continues to meet His followers and by doing so breathes hope into their lives. We have to notice the condition of the disciples here three days after the crucifixion: they were terrified! They were hiding in an upper room with the doors locked thinking that the Jews who killed Jesus were after them. And why would they think otherwise? From the arrest of Christ in the Garden they all fled in fear and were now gathered going over the details hardly believing all that had taken place. How could they make sense of any of this? One week earlier Jesus had rode the donkey into Jerusalem to the praise of the crowds. Four days earlier they disciples had observed the Passover with Jesus in full confidence of His plans for their lives. All of that now seemed like a distant shadow.

But then Jesus appeared! The door did not open, the wall did not break through; He just appeared. Not only did Jesus appear but also He talked to them immediately bringing their troubled hearts to peace. Then to prove that He was not just a ghost, Jesus called them to see and to touch His wounded hands and side. Oh what a difference Jesus makes in any situation. These men and women who were in total fear suddenly were at peace and were made glad. Nothing short of a resurrected Savior could bring such a change in hearts and lives of a fearful bunch. Suddenly their conversations about their assumed great loss was forgotten and a whole new life began to emerge. A new spirit filled the room when Jesus entered.

The risen Christ still changes the room when He enters. Today we hold Him outside by our fear and our unbelief. But when we bring Him in and seek His careful guidance then His Spirit enters and the whole atmosphere in the room changes. I have witnessed this in church meetings, in deacon meetings, in hospital rooms, in family meetings, and in counseling sessions. When we bring Jesus in, the resurrected Savior brings hope and peace that nothing else even comes close to bringing. Share with the disciples in the joy of the risen Jesus.

This Sunday Caleb and Lindsey will be with un the morning service. They are leaving for Thailand on Tuesday and will be gone for a year. We will be taking a special offering to help them in this mission endeavor. Pray about what God would have you to give to help to meet their needs. This is a huge step of faith for Caleb and Lindsay and we can be a wonderful encouragement to them.

Tonight is our regular schedule of youth group, Kids4Truth, and adult prayer and Bible study. See you then.

Last night I was able to give the gospel to two men. Pray for their hearts to open to Christ.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Oh what a wonderful Resurrection Jesus brought

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John 20:11–18

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb.

12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”

14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

It is nearly impossible for us to imagine this exchange between the risen Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Overcome with sorrow, Mary goes early to the tomb to grieve alone. Many of us have returned to the gravesite of a loved one just to be near them, to grieve privately, to air our sorrows. Mary did not go to the tomb expecting it to be empty, she came to spend a little more time with the One who loved her soul and saved her from her from her sin. But when she arrived the tomb stone was rolled back and the tomb was empty. Her grief increased thinking that someone had stolen the body of her Lord and so she begged the “gardener” for information.

We have been there, at some level. We have been at the funeral of a loved one struggling with why they had to die. The brutality of the death of Jesus, the senseless aggression to end His life would have exacerbated Mary’s grief. She just wanted to be near Him one more time.

Thus it is nearly impossible to fully understand her feelings. She speaks to a man pleading with him to tell her where the body is and the man calls her name, “Mary.” She knew that voice. She had heard it many times before. But she did not recognize the Man. Her Lord was beaten beyond recognition. His body was destroyed by the guards and the cross. This man was whole. He was in clean clothes. He had no indication of the horrific beating Jesus had endured just three days earlier. But she knew the voice was the most tender voice she had ever heard and as she looked up and looked into His eyes, she knew it was Jesus.

What would you have done? She embraced Jesus with tears of joy and then she ran and told the disciples that she had seen Him.   She became a strong witness of the Savior, and rightfully so, for she knew what she saw and heard. What a wonderful moment Mary had that day. John recorded this event for us to share in that moment and to enjoy it ourselves. Our Jesus lives! Our Jesus conquered both sin and death. Sin could not kill Him and the grave could not hold Him. Men could not restrain Him and the beating did not weaken Him. Jesus rose strong and triumphant over all of the effects of sin defeating Satan as predicted in Genesis 3. The Bible is true. God is God and salvation from sin was complete. Hallelujah! What a Savior.

We had a glorious Resurrection Sunday at Grace for Life. I am so thankful for all who participated to make that day one that exalted the resurrected Savior.   We sang of Jesus, we had readings as to His death and resurrection, we praised Him at the Lord’s Table and at the breakfast table. Thank you for coming to share in this great day with us and for taking part.

The tomb is empty,
He is Risen.

PS

The Prayers of Jesus for Us Answered

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John 17

24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

 

The riches of God toward us are seen in this prayer of Christ for us.  Praying for us, the Lord Jesus, eternal God who was loved by the Father before the foundation of the word, loves us.  I demonstrated in last Sunday’s message that God’s plan for our salvation began before He made the world, before the creation of man and before the sin of Adam and Eve.  God’s love for us has always been rich and desirous for our salvation.

Here Christ prayed that we would see His glory given to Him by the Father. Peter, James, and John saw the Lord in all of His glory when He was transfigured before them.  We, through the eyes of John given to us in Revelation 1, can see Jesus in His glory.  One day, every eye will see the Lord Jesus and every mouth will confess that He is Lord.  Look for the glory of our Lord every day and seek to rejoice in His glory.

I find it interesting in this prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father that those who believed in Him would be with Him, and would be in Him.  Deity in humanity, how can this be?  There is no way that we can ascend to the holy God and there is no way He in His holiness can be in us in our sinfulness.  Yet the Lord prayed for this impossible relationship to be fulfilled.  Aren’t you glad that Jesus prayed for something to happen and then went to action to make it happen?  For after this prayer ended Jesus was soon arrested, beaten, and crucified.  Bearing our sin and its eternal curse, the Lord Jesus bridged the gap between our sin and the holiness of God making us righteous by faith in His grace so that He could dwell in us.  Jesus prayed and then went to act to make sure His prayer and God’s desire would become a reality for us.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!

What a joy it was to gather together Sunday at Grace for Life Bible Church.  The presentation of the Discovery Bible was a thrill to all who came for it.  We look forward to getting this tool into our hands.  Go to www.thediscoverybible.com for the download. 

I introduced a series for December on the why and the how of Christ’s coming.  Sunday’s message was a bit longer as we looked at the fall of Adam and Eve and then realized that before their sin God already had a plan for their and our salvation.  Oh the riches of God toward His creation made in His image whom He eternally loves. 

Keep one another in prayer.  I received a call yesterday from one who used to come to our church.  Keep praying for those who used to come that God may bring them back to us.  Pray for some visits I will be making this week that Gods’ wisdom will be made manifest in them. 

Thanks to those who came to our concert on Sunday.  It is always good to look out and to see people I know.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Jesus Prays for Us

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John 17
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

Jesus prayed for us. Think about this, Jesus prayed to the Father that we who believed on Him through the words of the Apostles would become one in Him. Jesus prayed for us. Through the eye of eternity the Savior saw us in our need and prayed for us. I don’t know of any religion whose founder prayed for his future followers, but Jesus did. This is the love that Jesus had and has for us all.

We are not alone in our faith. We are not saved and forgotten expected to make it on our own. Our Savior prayed for us. Not only did Jesus pray for us but He ever lives to make intercession for us. Our Lord is deeply connected to us from eternity past, in the Garden before His crucifixion, today and throughout life. We must never doubt our position in Christ and His deep care for us.

Notice also why Jesus prayed for us. He wants us to be one with each other as much as Jesus is with God. The unity of the Trinity is the prayerful desire of Jesus for us.

For the month of the December I am going to be looking at the purpose of God in the incarnation of Christ. We will begin in Genesis 3 this week looking at the first mention of the coming of Christ. Our hearts will be stirred to see the heart of God for His creation, us.

Colorado Christian University is a great place for young people to prepare to live for God in this world. Kyle and I had a great day yesterday.

My parents are on their way to Philadelphia with my sister. Pray for a good trip and blessed time with their grandkids and their great grandkids.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Only the Truth Sanctifies – makes Holy

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John 17

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth

This is a very important devotional lesson today. Jesus made a timeless statement here that we must fully understand and totally buy into. There are no absolute truths in culture. Today especially, everything that we thought were common truths held by all have been challenged, twisted, and jettisoned as old, unnecessary, and even hate speech. But Jesus’ teachings have never been more relevant.

Every human being wants to think that they are doing things in a right manner, at least by their own definition of right and wrong. As we know, some people’s life definitions make them criminals, some make them edgy, some make them unkind and so on. But what we all want is to be right at some level.

Here is the problem, the only thing that makes us right, really right not culturally right, is truth. What is truth? Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Jesus wants us sanctified, made holy, yes, made right, by God’s truth. Jesus lived the truths of God before all people during His earthly ministry. He blessed marriage at the wedding in Cana. He spoke to marriage being between a man and a woman and being for life. He spoke of living the Ten Commandments and doing so from the heart in the Sermon on the Mount. He cared for people of all races thus addressing prejudice. He cared for a woman caught in adultery while bringing fair judgment on her accusers thus addressing the bully and the one attacked. He then forgave her and sent her home thus addressing compassion. On and on we could go demonstrating the truth of God for life from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

What we do with the truth of God, the person and life of Jesus, is what makes the difference for us. The truth will sanctify us before men and before God. The truth is like soap and water for the soul cleaning dirty places corrupted by sin and its’ deceptive ways. The truth, when fully applied, is the absolute best counseling treatment for the soul. It is better than anyone or anything that can be applied. The truth, Jesus said, sanctifies, makes clean and holy, our souls and then it sets us free.

Set the truth of Christ is like a candle on a hill, like a bonfire on a hill, and let all false thoughts come to it and be shown to be false by it. The truth alone leads us and keeps us in the Light that guides our lives into the right way to live.

I am in Colorado today and tomorrow. So far, Colorado Christian University is a really good school striving to train Christian young people to go out into the world to live for God. We get the tours and the classes and the chapel today.

Sunday is our dinner day at church. This is December so this Sunday will have a Christmas theme to the dinner. Bring something Christmassy for us to enjoy.

Sunday morning in the adult Sunday school we will be getting a demonstration of the Discovery Bible by its creator, Dr Gary Hill. Anyone who reads their Bible would benefit from the Discovery Bible. It is a wonderful tool for making the Bible live in your understanding. This will be an interactive lesson as Gary shows us on the screen and brings the Bible to life right before our eyes. Join us at 9:30. We usually start this class a little late for late-comers but Gary needs the full 45 minutes so don’t be late.

Thank you for your prayers. Pastor Phil has been stronger this week than he has in quite some time. He is believing that God has healed him. Tom still needs our prayers for his body and his soul.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Christ prays for us in this world

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John 17

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

 

When Jesus spoke on this earth, He spoke the words of God.  He gave His disciples teachings of another world, the heavenly world where God dwells and reigns.  As the disciples heard and believed the words of the Father through the Son the world grew to hate them just as they hated Jesus.

In this part of his prayer, Jesus prays for us that as the world hates us we would be kept from Satan’s hands and plans.  The evil one is the prince of darkness, the ruler of this world, and the enemy of all that is God’s, especially His people, His church.  Yet, we are in this world and the world needs us in it.  We are the force that is holding back the powers of sin and darkness from complete rampage and corruption.  We who have the words of the Father in us know the truth, have been set free by it and long to see those we know and love also set free by God’s truth and grace.

We are sanctified by God’s truth.  We are cleansed from sin’s deceptive ways by the absolute truth of God.  Jesus taught us this truth as He is the way, the truth, and the life.  He was not of this world and once we accept Him as Savior and Lord, neither are we.  Jesus Christ, in the garden, prayed for us as we live in this world which hated Him and hates us.  In fact, Jesus has sent all of us, His followers, into the world to show the world His love and truth and grace.  Whom has Christ sent you to today?  Show them Christ in you that they may come by faith to His grace.

I am taking Kyle on a college trip tomorrow and will be gone until Friday.  I will be available by phone and will try to keep up with the devotionals but I am not sure of our schedule.  Pray that this trip will be a guide for Kyle to spend his life following Christ.

The group I sing with, the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, has our annual Christmas concert this coming Sunday at Knox Presbyterian church at 3:00.  I do have tickets for this concert and can place them at the counter for you.  If you want to come just let me know and we will make sure tickets are available for you.  If you like Christmas music, this concert will tickle all of your fancies as we will be performing some very serious Christmas music as well as some more lighthearted songs.  Join us for a fun afternoon. 

My sister, Dawn, has come to visit.  Mom and dad are thrilled to have her here for the week. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Christ’s joy fulfilled in us

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John 17

13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.

 

Having grown up in church and around Christians my whole life I must confess that all of the true Christ-followers that I have known have been people of godly joy.  The other side is also true; those who just came to church but their lives did not exemplified the indwelling Christ did not have joy but were just as miserable as anyone else.

Committed to the Father’s will and knowing that He came to redeem us all, Christ lived a joy-filled life.  One of the difficulties I had with Jim Caviziel’s portrayal of Christ was that he always spoke as though he were in pain. Knowing and doing the exact will of God gives us joy in the midst of pain, which we are told in Hebrews 11:2 that Jesus, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross and despised the shame.

One of the stated goals of the Lord Jesus was that we, His followers, would have His joy fulfilled in ourselves.  This is a passive verb which means that He is the one who supplies us this joy.  We do not have to fabricate it or work it up but the joy of the Lord is in us.  Look, we have heaven to gain, sin to defeat, church to enjoy, the Bible to read and the Holy Spirit to light our way.  We have fellowship with others who are in Christ and we have the riches of God over-abounding in our lives.  What is there to be gloomy about?  Sure, we can focus on depressing stuff but we don’t have to.  We have the joy of the Lord Jesus filling us so that we can have His joy in every chapter of our lives.

2 Corinthians 10:For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

I am so looking forward to our Thanksgiving Praise time tonight.  Every year we gather to praise the time flies by and we leave so filled with rejoicing and prepared in a greater way for Thanksgiving.  Come tonight with something to praise God for, something to exalt His work and purpose in your life.  We will all leave blessed and rejoicing as we edify one another. 

Do continue in prayer for my two friends who are battling cancer.  Pastor Phil and Tom are going to have a different Thanksgiving than ever before.  Pray for them to know God’s peace in a difficult hour of life.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Saved and Kept by the Lord Jesus

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John 17

11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

 

The security of our salvation has its roots in the Lord Jesus’ keeping of His disciples.  We see here that God gave Jesus the twelve. Jesus kept the twelve, trained them, led them, and held them.  Their salvation was completely rooted in Christ.  (Mention is made here of Judas as the son of perdition that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.  Judas’ heart was never changed; he always lived with a love of money thus was never redeemed.)  As we dwell upon this truth our hearts should sigh a great big sigh of relief for neither do we save ourselves nor do we keep ourselves saved.  Our glorious Lord Jesus keeps all of us who are given to Him by the Father.

You see, my friends, salvation is all of God.  The human element, as evidenced by the twelve, is simply an acceptance of the call.  We are called by God, drawn by His love and the truth of His word.  He gives us the faith to believe and we accepting all that He has done to save us are saved by Him.  The technical term for this is a monergistic salvation.  God does all of the saving. The beauty of this faith is that the One who saves also keeps.  For if I had any part in being saved then I could also have a part in losing my salvation.  But, since God is the author and the finisher of my salvation my eternal security is in Him and never in my ability to maintain it.

The entire New Testament bears out that the sole worker in saving souls from sin and death is God.  Do not buy into a synergistic view of salvation that somehow you had to do something to merit God’s grace.  For if you had do to anything to gain God’s grace it would no longer be grace.  Just add one human work to grace and it no longer is grace.  In that confusing scenario the next logical thought is that since you did something to gain your salvation then you must also be able to do something to lose your salvation.  No, no, no, our eternal salvation from our sin into the glorious presence of the Holy God is the work of God and God alone.

“Hallelujah, what a Savior who can take a poor lost sinner lift him from the miry clay and set Him free.  I will ever tell the story shouting glory, glory, glory!  Hallelujah Jesus ransomed me.”

On Sunday we, as a church, delivered ten complete Thanksgiving dinners.  Each dinner included a turkey, vegetable, potatoes, yams, pumpkin, dinner rolls, and a pumpkin pie with whip cream.  (Thanks to Sharon and Bobbi for organizing all of this.)  The recipients were identified through the Naperville Township office as people in the area who would be struggling this Thanksgiving.  Our church families delivered these with great joy and a testimony of the love of the Lord Jesus.  My thanks to all who participated in this wonderful outreach.  Pray that God will receive the glory throughout this week as families rejoice in God’s love through us for them.

Tomorrow night will be our annual night of praise and thanksgiving.  This praise service will be a time when you bring the messages.  As you reflect on praise to God and chose the songs we sing the service goes in the direction the Holy Spirit leads it.  All teens and children will be with us in the service. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

How can we be a part of the answer of Jesus’ prayer?

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John 17

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.

 

I am not sure if we think much about what it means to glorify something.  When we sing in church we sing songs to the glory of God and many songs use those words in their texts.  We really do glorify things in this life and we do so all the time.  When we eat something we like we talk about it favorably we give glory to it.  When our sports teams wins and we wear their symbols we give glory to them.  When we are loyal to a brand of food or clothes or car we are giving that brand glory.  So then, whenever we tell others or intentionally show others Jesus Christ we are giving Him glory.

In our text today we read that Jesus is glorified in us who have been given to Him by the Father.  God the Father calls us out of our sinful life into His glorious and forgiving grace.  He saves us and gives us to the Son.  This transaction we call getting saved.  When we are saved from our sin we become children of God, joint-heirs of heaven.  We are taken from the family of sin and Satan and adopted into the family of God.  No longer do we belong to this world and its sin but we now belong to God through the great work of Christ on the Cross.

Once God has wonderfully saved us and changed us into His image as new creatures in Him, Jesus is then glorified through us. As Christ prayed for us in the Garden, He prayed that He would be glorified through us.  So, get this, every time you and I lift up the Savior by what we say, where we go, what we wear, what offence we resolve, and how we live we are seeing His prayer answered through us.  My friends, this is amazing!  We are seeing the prayers of Jesus answered in us when we do something that glorifies Him.  How are you glorifying Christ today and answering His prayers for you?

Be in prayer for Sunday.  Not only will we be starting a series on Longsuffering but we will also continue in 2 Corinthians 1 and will be delivering turkey dinners to people in need.  We have identified ten families in our community through Naperville Township office that are in need.  We will be visiting them with tangible care and be introducing ourselves and our church to them as a light of Christ in our community.  Pray for open hearts.  We could still use a few more dollars for the turkeys. If you were going to give but did not please let me know how much you plan to give so we can know how much to spend.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The unity of the Trinity

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John 17:

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

Take time today to notice the submission of Jesus Christ to God the Father.  There is a lot of argument going on today about the Trinity of God.  I believe that God is triune in His existence but one in His essence.  In His triune being the three persons of God act in complete harmony through submission to one another.  Jesus Christ demonstrated this perfectly for us during His incarnation.  Jesus, God in the flesh, completely submitted to the Father’s, God in heaven, will. In every way Jesus completed the will and plan of God the Father.

Jesus was not less than the Father for He was with the Father for eternity past.  According to the Father’s will Jesus manifested the Father to the men given to Him.  God gave these men and women to Jesus and Jesus showed them the Father.  In doing so, the men and women believed in God in a greater way and glorified Him for sending His Son to them. (John 3:16)

Jesus gave these followers given to Him by God the words of the Father.  As Jesus gave them the words of God they believed that Jesus came from God.  Jesus acted in full submission to the Father and in doing so convinced the followers that He was from God.  Suppose Jesus had gone off once in a while and had spouted about this or that.  Suppose Jesus had taken some matters into His own hands and had forsaken the Father’s will a time or two just to shut up some people who needed to be shut up.  In doing so, first of all Jesus would have sinned against God and secondly Jesus would have broken up the unity of the Trinity.  Since Jesus was God none of this could have happened and thankfully it did not.  In His perfect unity with the Father Jesus has shown us how we in His church under His headship and the Father’s Lordship how we too should get along in perfect harmony and submission.

Sunday is our day for passing out Thanksgiving turkey dinners to needy families in the community.  We still need some bags of potatoes, some dinner rolls, and some canned sweet potatoes.  Our goal is twenty dinners.  We will be distributing these after church and some of you have signed up to be a part of this distribution.  If you missed the sign up and would like to be a part of the distribution teams please respond back to me by email or text to let me know and we will add you to that team.

Last night we prayed for those who are out protesting against Donald Trump’s presidency.  These protestors are people with fears of losing something and they have already lost any peace they might have had. We prayed that they would come to know the peace of God through Christ, the Prince of peace.  Instead of looking on them with any other attitude, look on them with compassion and pray for their eternal salvation and eternal peace.

I have two friends struggling with cancer.  Pray for a pastor named Phil and a friend named Tom.  Both have been through treatments but are not well now.  Both have families and lives they want to live. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS